“I’m Tired Of All This! How About You?”
Can I be honest with you? I’m tired. I just am. These days seem to melt together in such a way that sometimes I don’t know if it’s Monday or Friday. I’m tired of COVID-19, I’m tired of political garbage, I’m just tired of it all. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that many of you feel the same way.
A vacation sounds nice. A time to get away, to rest, to recharge would be a great idea right now. But where would I go? Can’t really do much anywhere these days. So it doesn’t seem like there is any way to escape, any way to find rest in the midst of our crazy world. I recognize my desire, but where will I find fulfillment?
At the same time, I recognize that these feelings of looking forward to an extended period of rest are God-given. In fact, much of the longing we all feel actually has its fulfillment in God. That may seem like a strange idea to you. “How can the desire for rest be God-given?” It’s not vacation I’m talking about, but the desire for rest, true rest. The Bible actually addresses the idea of finding or entering into God’s rest in many places and in different ways.
As God began to lead His people through Moses, He made special promises. “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). As long as Israel was faithful, God promised to be with them, guide them, and bless them (Deuteronomy 28:1). The rest God promised was prefigured into the giving of land. God would provide land where His people could live and worship freely. Throughout the first six books of the Bible, we see this march toward and eventual conquering of the land of Canaan (later called Israel). By the end of the book of Joshua, because of the promises of God and the faithfulness of the children of Israel, His people finally entered into the land, into God’s rest. “Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers” (Joshua 21:43-44). All of God’s promises to the people had come to fruition.
So shouldn’t the book of Joshua, then, be the last book of the Bible? (That would make reading the Bible in a year a whole lot easier!) The problem is sin continued to reign in and among the people. In fact, the book following Joshua is Judges, which has an eerie refrain summarizing the basic idea of the whole book, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Sin is something that affects more than just the surface level of who we are and what we do; sin is at the very core of our being. Throughout the pages of the Bible, the people of Israel are a clear example of the deep-seated nature of sin. Sin continued to interrupt the nation’s covenant relationship with God, and they received consequences; namely, a broken relationship with God. A restlessness of wandering, not finding peace or comfort, because true and lasting peace can only come from God.
We read the words of God in the Psalm 95, “I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’’' Again, this broken relationship must be restored if the people were ever to enter into that ultimate rest. So how do we usually go about achieving a desired outcome? We work for it! That is exactly what the nation of Israel did. They tried to be as religious as they could to earn rest from God. However, no matter how hard we work, we always fall short of God’s glory and standards (Romans 3:23). “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required” (Psalm 40:6). God always values our hearts more than anything we can achieve in our own power. While we may think we can try our best to meet God’s standards, the reality is we need to humbly accept the fact that we cannot. We cannot please God while we remain in our sinful flesh (Romans 8:8). Rather, God wants us to trust Him and to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).
So how is it ever possible to enter God’s rest, that rest we are so inclined to desire, of which we all long now more than ever? Only through faith. “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:1-3). This is yet another layer to the amazing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ Himself is our rest! He achieved what we could not so that we can receive His benefits.
So as you long for all this mess to be over, as you long to push pause on our current cultural moment in order to catch your breath, as you just wish you could get a little rest from it all, take some time to consider the call of Christ: He offers of the kind of rest you will never find apart from Him. I promise you, you will not find the rest you seek on a vacation, or even in this world. Instead, listen to these words from Jesus Himself, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).